There is now an antidote for the Australian box jellyfish sting thanks to a team of Australian researchers who used CRISPR and an inexpensive drug on the market to treat box jellyfish stings.
The Australian box jellyfish is the most venomous creature in the world. It has almost 60 tentacles that can grow as long as 10 feet and it carries venom that could kill over 60 people. A single sting will cause a person to go through excruciating pain, it causes skin necrosis, and in large doses, it causes cardiac arrest and death in just a few minutes.
According to the researchers at the university’s Charles Perkins Centre, the antidote they have developed can block the symptoms of the sting if it is applied topically in the first 15 minutes from being stung.
“By working with humans cells and the gene-editing tool CRISPR, we identified a common, cheap drug that is already on the market and which could be a candidate for treating box jellyfish stings,” writes the university’s press release.
The team created a “molecular antidote” through CRISPR by taking millions of human cells and adding venom to them. Then, they looked for the cells that survived, explained Raymond Lau, the lead author of the study:
“It’s the first molecular dissection of how this type of venom works, and possibly how any venom works.”
Development for Box Jellyfish Venom Antidote Continues
The antidote works on human cells outside the body and has been successfully tested on mice. Researchers are now developing a topical application which should stop necrosis, skin scarring and pain when it gets applied to the skin. However, they must continue the research and see if the drug can also prevent a heart attack.
“As well as developing a topical application at the site of a sting, we also aim to develop this idea as a potential treatment for cardiac injection in the emergency room in the case of very severe box jellyfish sting cases,” concluded the press release.
You can check out the paper titled Molecular dissection of box jellyfish venom cytotoxicity highlights an effective venom antidote, which was published in the Nature Communications journal on April 30.
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